Though we have recognized for a while that Bentley’s mighty 626-hp twin-turbo 6.0-liter W-12 is approaching retirement, we have assumed that the corporate’s much less profligate 542-hp twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 would outlive it by a couple of years. That’s, till just lately. Bentley’s latest announcement that each one of its automobiles can be both plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) or full electrics as quickly as 2026—and that it’s going to produce its final combustion engine by the top of the last decade—implies that the smaller engine’s future is not any rosier. This 2021 Flying Spur stands out as the final new automotive the V-8 seems in.

As with Bentley’s Continental GT coupe and Bentayga SUV, the union between the V-8 and the Flying Spur is a cheerful one. Consumers of the smaller engine want sacrifice solely a smidge of ahead thrust in comparison with the massive W-12, however in addition they acquire a rortier soundtrack, crisper dealing with, and a 17-mpg EPA mixed estimate, up from the W-12’s 15 mpg. At $201,725 to start out, the V-8’s $22,200 low cost in base value over the W-12 is a comparatively modest saving on this rarefied phase, and one which can be simply offset by a modest foray into the Spur’s expensive possibility record. However patrons of the lesser automotive definitely don’t get a stripped-out mannequin. No matter its engine, the Flying Spur’s cabin combines beautiful supplies with a design that blends trendy and conventional themes. House is beneficiant for front- and rear-seat occupants alike, and the degrees of consolation and refinement stay spectacular even when cruising at extralegal speeds.

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The one visible distinctions versus the W-12 are modest V8 badges on the entrance fenders, quad exhaust finishers instead of twin ovals, and normal 20-inch wheels as an alternative of 21s. Our take a look at automotive in England was fitted with a considerable load of choices, together with the $19,395 Mulliner Driving bundle with its 22-inch wheels and extra decadent inside trim, plus the $8555 Touring bundle, which provides lane-keeping help, adaptive cruise management, a head-up show, and night time imaginative and prescient. An extra $7730 added rear-wheel steering and Bentley’s Dynamic Trip system with its 48-volt energetic anti-roll bars. The Spur’s rotating dashboard panel—which permits the infotainment display to get replaced with a trio of chrome-ringed devices—stays a neat embellishment, even when it does value a considerable $6425.

The V-8’s character is totally different from that of the W-12 however positively not inferior to it. The bigger engine delivers its grunt with minimal effort throughout its rev vary. The V-8, then again, must be labored slightly tougher. However that’s no imposition; all of its 568 pound-feet of torque are current at simply 2000 rpm, but it feels extra enthusiastic as you discover the higher reaches of its tachometer. It additionally sounds markedly higher than the W-12, its exhaust observe hardening and gaining a compelling V-8 rasp above 5000 rpm, though the aural signature is extra subdued right here than within the Continental GT or Bentayga V-8s.

The Spur’s normal eight-speed dual-clutch automated transmission sharpens the V-8’s motivation additional. At decrease speeds it comes near delivering the smoothness of a traditional torque-converter automated. As soon as rolling, nevertheless, the shifts come quick and seamlessly, whatever the setting. The usual all-wheel-drive system delivers plentiful traction even throughout exhausting launches and may assist the Flying Spur V-8 attain 60 mph in 3.9 seconds—solely 0.4 second behind the W-12 mannequin that we have already examined.

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Not way back, the extent of luxurious delivered by the Flying Spur’s luxurious cabin would have been accompanied by a suspension with the manners of a thumped waterbed. However the newest mannequin manages to mix infinite consolation with dynamic function higher than nearly another sedan. Physique management is exemplary, the mixture of air springs and adaptive dampers protecting the Spur’s 5000-plus kilos beneath tight management over all varieties of highway undulations. This huge sedan additionally turns and responds remarkably properly. Our take a look at automotive’s energetic anti-roll system largely eradicated itemizing from the physique beneath all however the hardest cornering. There are a number of drive modes, however the default Bentley setting appears to manage properly with all the things.

Whereas our take a look at automotive’s Pirelli all-season tires had been in a position to generate spectacular grip on the damp, slippery asphalt of wintery England, little significant resistance got here by the steering wheel. The slick situations additionally meant it was exhausting to note any dynamic enhancements from the claimed 220 fewer kilos that the V-8 automotive carries over its entrance wheels in comparison with the W-12, though we now have little question that weight distinction could be extra apparent on grippier surfaces.

Bentley isn’t a model for many who would deny themselves pleasure and even delay its gratification, and it isn’t one usually related to the concept of much less being extra. But, the brand new Flying Spur V-8 proves {that a} discount in energy would not should imply an inferior expertise. Whereas many potential patrons will possible favor the Spur’s brawnier W-12 engine, the V-8 makes a powerful case because the extra clever alternative.

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